The Union home ministry got into damage-control mode on Tuesday after a YouTube video of a Border Security Force (BSF) jawan in Jammu and Kashmir showing the poor quality food served to the soldiers went viral on social media.
Facing flak over the video, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh asked Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi to immediately seek a report and take action. The BSF is expected to submit the report in a couple of days.
BSF jawan Tej Bahadur Yadav uploaded the video on his Facebook page on Sunday and it immediately went viral. In the video, Yadav shows the visuals of a half-burnt roti and dal in a container, with a comment that jawans who do tough duty are being treated inhumanly. He said they are served water mixed with turmeric and salt with no onion, garlic or seasoning, not even cumin. Yadav alleged that jawans even have to go on “empty stomach” at times.
While the BSF has instituted an inquiry by a DIG-level officer, it rubbished the charges and said that the jawan was an “alcoholic and a habitual offender with a difficult past.”
“Constable Tej Bahadur, as an individual, has a difficult past. From the initial days of his career, he needed regular counselling. Different correction mechanics have been applied for the individual’s welfare as he was a habitual absentee, chronic alcoholic, and used force against superior officers and was guilty of certain other acts,” said a BSF spokesman at the Jammu Frontier.
This statement has led many to ask why a jawan with such a questionable track record to be posted in such a sensitive company location as Mandi. Mandi is located in the infiltration-prone sector of Poonch in Jammu that falls very close to the Line of Control (LoC).
A senior official at the BSF headquarters in New Delhi candidly stated that the force was facing a shortage of jawans and thus at times fails to give peacetime duty.
“The constable in question is posted in a battalion deployed on the LoC. In comparison to International Border (IB), serving conditions are harsh as weather poses difficult challenges. However, rations are given to all, including officers at LoC and is available in good quality, quantity and variety,” the BSF spokesman said.
The spokesman said that the jawan was sent to the administration base in Poonch only 10 days back. He was under observation to see if counselling had improved his behaviour.
“The DIG and Commanding Officer visited him and there were about 20 other BSF jawans and there was no complaint from anyone,” he said.
He said that leaving aside the background of the individual, a transparent and fair inquiry into the circumstances in which he posted the videos would be carried out.